Walking to the Ducks
By Bernie Barringer
Here is where it's nice to have a well-trained dog but it is not a necessity. If you shoot a duck that lands on the water where it is too deep to wade, you may have to wait a while before the wind blows it to your side, or you may have a long walk to go to the other side. Keep this in mind before you pull the trigger.
Great places to jump shoot on foot include small pothole marshes and ponds, natural cattle tanks, stock dams, drainage ditches, small creeks, farm ponds and even sewage treatment facilities. Yes you heard that right. One of my favorite places to jump-shoot ducks is the treatment ponds of a small town's sewage treatment plant. The sides are steep and they allow you to sneak right up to the edge and have some really close shooting. And contrary to what you might think, these ponds are actually pretty clean. At least if the ducks think so, I don't disagree.
Some of the best places I have found to jump-shoot ducks in farm country are drainage ditches. The waters are rarely more than three feet deep so you can navigate them with hip boots. They have steep sides, so often you can walk right up to the edge and look down at the ducks. When the ducks flush, they have no place to go but right up in front of you, or away from you down the ditch. It's relatively predictable and easy shooting.
If you do not have a particular place you are expecting the ducks to be, it's a simple matter to walk the sides of the ditch in order to flush the ducks that are hidden within.
If you are targeting wood ducks-which are some of the most common ducks you will find in ditches-look for places along these ditches where cover on the sides comes right down to the water, particularly trees and heavier brush. Open-sided ditches are more likely to hold mallards and teal.
Some of the most out-of-the-way places offer good jump-shooting. I know of a small farm pond that has trees surrounding it. It's less than an acre in size, but at any point during the season, it is likely to have a few woodies using it. It's a simple matter to approach the pond unseen from below the dam. When I pop up above the dam, any ducks on the pond are in range-and in trouble.
Duck hunting can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. You can spend thousands on a duck boat, a blind and a huge raft of decoys. Or you can grab your shotgun and just go shoot some ducks. Do what you like; but for me, I prefer the adventure and the simplicity of the latter.